Grades Are In: Orinda Gets Mostly "B's" and "D's"

We asked Patchers to grade our cities, and we're finishing up with the results from our Orinda poll. While some had positive things to say about the city of Orinda, others -- not so much. What do you think?


This summer we’ve asked Lamorinda Patchers to grade their beloved community one city at a time. First up was, then , and finally, Orinda.

And while they often say “save the best for last,” aren’t all positive. Many comments posted on the story were optimistic, but the results of the poll tell a different story.

While 37 percent of voters gave Orinda a “B,” 34 percent also gave Orinda a “D,” for “Slipping. Has some serious problems.”

Some seem concerned about the quality of city government, and commenter Chris Kniel said he was concerned that creative, out-of-the-box ideas are limited when it comes to the city council.

“My concerns are that the city government does not bend or adjust to reflect the will of the people. They go through the motions but they don’t seem to connect the dots. For example, citizen input at City Council Meetings is rarely followed up,” Kniel wrote.

Others were concerned about the conditions of the roads, which has been a The Orinda city council recently voted to place a half-cent sales tax measure on the November ballot, which -- if passed -- would help fund road repairs.

The people of Orinda also expressed their concern about the control that the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) seems to have over the city of Orinda.

While Orindans did speak out about perceived negatives, people also had plenty of good things to say about their city. Six percent of voters gave Orinda an “A,” citing the city as a good place to raise a family with a fun downtown area.

Bruce Carroll, who gave Orinda an “A,” said it was a good size and friendly town. He said he enjoyed downtown for the theater and the shops.

Others agreed, and emphasized the family-oriented aspect of the city of Orinda. 

“This city is committed to preserving a way if life that respects people as they age and values the family unit,” wrote Patch commenter LaRay Spencer. “Orinda works to be a progressive, healthy and environmentally sound community while respecting people's boundaries. It loves its children and teens and teaches them service as a way if life.”

Does Orinda deserve all those "D's"? Or is it more of an "A" city? What do you think? Let us know in the comments below. 

KFrances August 15, 2012 at 06:16 AM
The worry is the drastic changes planned for Orinda and the City Council's attachment to One Bay Area. If the PDA goes in as planned, the schools, police and fire services will never be the same...the roads will be worse, the parking worse, the crime - way worse...It is mandated by the state and Orindans want out of ABAG and no conflict of interest with MTC. This is a huge turning point for our city. We like Orinda the way it is at an A or B - but it's the lack of leadership that gives it a D. Have some GUTS Orinda leaders like Corte Madera, Palo Alto, Saratoga...and thank you for not renewing ICLEI dues !
Steve Cohn August 15, 2012 at 02:56 PM
I think the poll numbers tell it all. 29 responders out of 17,600 residents (and I do not believe that reflects a low Patch readership). Most people in Orinda are more concerned with number one than the whole. They read about issues, wring their hands, and assume someone else will deal with them. And they are encouraged to do so by the leaders. I have watched, and been involved with the road issue for several years. Anything but the basic "tried and true" (and proven non-workable) solutions are shoved aside by the leaders and not even recorded as options. Out-of-the box thinkers walk away from the problem after being slapped down a few times. Lafayette's traffic circle bru-ha is another example of Luddite thinking. There was a brainstorming session in Orinda where "all ideas" were being collected about Moraga Way traffic on school mornings. The major problems were reported at traffic lights. Traffic circles were suggested. The suggestion was not even written down by the moderator. Much of the western world operates with traffic circles but not Orinda. Not rural enough. Need straight roads through our corn fields with two options, stop or go. Yield-if-you-need-to is too complex a process. One cannot trust the other guy to do the right thing. Fresh ideas needed and leaders that will honestly explore them.
Lissa Sorensen August 17, 2012 at 05:50 PM
I so agree. Nicely said.
Charlie September 28, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Agree with KFrances. The City Council will not stand up to ABAG to dislodge ABAG's (and MTC's) plans for Orinda. They are afraid of losing what little funds are awarded for cooperation with the MTC's & ABAG's Jobs-Housing Connection Strategy and willingly forfeit the voice of the people to unelected officials who target Orinda for development that is completely out of character for its size & topography. Worse, the plan's (set for implementation in 2013) assigns low and very low income housing without any calculation on the impact it will have on schools or the value of private property. The present City Council is ill-informed, weak, and unimaginative. Steve Cohn's comment that Orinda needs fresh ideas and LEADERS that will honestly explore them is on target. BBrown
Lance Beeson October 11, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Well, we just watched the Orinda Planning Commission take the oldest and first non-native extant building in Orinda, that existed before there was an Orinda, Moraga or Lafayette, and give in to pressure for it to become a little-used clubhouse for 13 well-heeled homeowners and their families (the Moraga Adobe on the new "JJ Ranch"), thereby locking the public out forever. This is crass, ignorant capitalism at its very worst, put forth in the name of property rights and ignoring stewardship issues of a national, state and local landmark. I am in disbelief that the highest bidder of influence got the green light, without an EIR. Only one planning commissioner felt skeptical enough to ask hard questions and vote no. Let the lawsuits and public shaming of Orinda begin for ignoring their own history. I'll start. Shame on you, Planning Commission. You were in the tank for the developers all along. We gave you all the reasons to be skeptical, to wonder about future litigation but adding more luxury homes is the only solution to increase Orinda's value. It seems to be the only thing you understand. Newsflash: a usable historic monument would have added more prestige and likely value to your community than MacMansions.
CJ October 11, 2012 at 10:41 PM
You should be thrilled they didn't demolish it already. Be happy with what someone else is paying to do that you won't. So they get to use it for a purpose. How is that a bad thing exactly? From your tone you would bitch if you were in the front row of heaven because the music was too loud. I hear Quiet Orinda is looking for members , you'd fit in great.
Lance Beeson October 11, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Well, CJ, the Friends of the Moraga Adobe has attained non-profit status, collected donations, but its not an overnight process. As far as purpose, we proposed a whole series of public uses for the building, done in a respectful way to the surrounding neighborhood. I don't think I'm the one with the impractical views. Check out historical homes in the rest of the state and nation. Check out the Alviso Adobe, which was the model for our proposal.
Lance Beeson October 11, 2012 at 11:02 PM
PS. You can't demolish a national, state and public landmark so feeling lucky is a moot point.
ryt November 15, 2012 at 06:34 AM
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